Dining at Berkeley: Explore!

The Golden Bear Café is on Sproul Plaza close to the MLK Student Union building.

The Golden Bear Café is on Sproul Plaza close to the MLK Student Union building.

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Where to Eat and How to Get There

As a Resident Assistant (RA) at UC Berkeley, I helped many students get their bearings around campus. One of the fun elements is mapping out where you’ll eat. It’s super easy to plan meals around your classes and extracurriculars at Berkeley because there are so many locations on campus where you can go! Here’s a quick rundown to get you started on your eating adventures, and a campus foodscape map that is useful for exploring options based on your needs from groceries and food pantries to restaurants, and including campus gardens.

Know Location Hours and How to Get There

When deciding where to eat on campus, make sure you know when the dining commons are open. Like restaurants, dining commons have set hours of operation around meal time. If you do plan to eat at one of the dining commons and you need a quick way to get across campus, check out Bear Transit. It’s free for the Berkeley community and often less crowded than the AC transit buses, plus it has padded seats! If you live on Southside and have a class on Northside, you can choose to take the Bear Transit Perimeter Line instead of walking.

Speaking of getting around, if you’re venturing a little further afield to eat or get home, you can take advantage of your Clipper Card that is loaded with an AC Transit Student EasyPass. Every UC Berkeley student receives one, and it allows you to ride any AC Transit bus without additional cost. So, if you love trying new places to eat, be sure to take the 51B bus one way to downtown Berkeley, or the other direction into the heart of Oakland, where you’ll find restaurants, cafes, and local landmarks to explore!

If you find yourself coming home late in the evening, keep in mind there’s a Night Safety Shuttle that stops in front of every residence hall as well as other locations. Another option for Berkeley students on their way home late at night is BearWalk. A trained Community Service Officer will meet you anywhere on campus and walk with you to your desired destination, like your residence hall, apartment, or vehicle (there’s a wait time, so plan ahead!).

Explore Somewhere New!

If I could give some advice to students with a meal plan, I would encourage them to not be afraid to go to different dining commons. There’s no reason you need to stick to the one closest to where you live. My freshman year I lived near Café 3, so that was where I went most often. While I still love Café 3, I wish I would have eaten at other dining locations more often! One time, I missed out on a chocolate fountain in Crossroads because I didn’t want to walk ten minutes. Only ten minutes!

Every dining commons has a different menu every day, with fresh, organic ingredients and a tasty variety of options, so check out the menus and head to the spot that sounds best to you. For me, any dining location serving chicken tenders is where I’m headed!

Kaylie Chen, Class of ’21, BA Legal Studies.


Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in a meal plan, check out Cal Dining’s website. For the most recent information about housing for UC Berkeley students, see housing.berkeley.edu.